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Beyond What to Expect

by Natasha Marchand
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If you have ever walked along the parenting aisle of a booming bookstore, you are bound to come across a few dozen copies of ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’. You may even have a copy yourself, a first purchase after seeing those pink lines or a gift from a loving friend or family member. But what if there were other books out there that are just as good or *GASP* even better than the famed ‘What to Expect’?
I have to admit, I am a bit of a book addict. I have two piles of books leaning up against my overstuffed bookshelf. Combine that with my love of anything birth/baby related and a recent pregnancy myself, you get a pretty good prenatal library. I have listed a few of my favorites here, ones I always recommend in my prenatal education/fitness classes, and everyone else loves them too!
For Pregnancy & Birth:
‘The Birth Partner’ by Penny Simkin ­ If you are only going to read one book on childbirth, this is the one. Not only does it outline everything you would ever need to know about birth, but it also explains exactly how your partner can support you when the time comes. It’s easy to read, unbiased and full of the information needed to feel confident as you move towards the big day. I would recommend packing this one in your birth bag ­ it will come in handy!
‘Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth’ by Ina May Gaskin ­ Unlike ‘The Birth Partner’, this book is biased towards natural birth. Not because the author (the mother of midwifery) wants everyone to have a natural birth, but because she truly believes that given the right support, most women can have a natural birth. This book is amazing because the first half helps you to build confidence in your body with information, statistics and anecdotal evidence, while the second half is all birth stories (positive ones!) and in a time where most birth stories are negative this is surprisingly refreshing.
For Parenting
*Note: You should be reading a little bit about parenting before the baby arrives. There will be little (or no) time for reading after!
‘The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding’ by La Leche League International­ It was a toss up between this book and Dr. Jack Newman’s ‘Guide to Breastfeeding’ but in the end, the well organized information and easy to read sections made this book my top pick. While Newman’s book reads like an encyclopedia, ‘The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding’ serves as a guide you will refer to many times during your breastfeeding career.
‘The Baby Book’ by Dr. Sears ­ When you have a new baby (or toddler) you need ONE great book you can quickly flip through and find answers. This is THAT book and just as the title says,
everything you need to know about your baby from birth to age two is in here. What I like best about the book? Not only is it a great overall reference, but the overlying tone of this book is ‘trust your instincts’. You will be getting a lot of unsolicited advice once your baby arrives, and it’s nice to know that someone believes you are fully equipped to do the right thing for you and your family.
‘The No­Cry Sleep Solution’ by Elizabeth Pantly ­ Sleep: you will want it, and will go through great lengths to get it. My advice is to learn a little bit about babies and their sleep habits early so you can start on the right food. Many sleep books enforce strict schedules that are hard for a new baby to follow. ‘The No­Cry Sleep Solution’ works to find the right routine for your baby while helping you find comforting techniques that will get you some more zzzz’s.

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